You May Now Address Me as “Master”

Well, December has sure as fuck been one hell of a ride.

The first week of December saw me in a new role at a new company. I quit my old job before Thanksgiving, and started  at the new place a few weeks later.

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I took those two weeks between jobs to finish up my paper for the final class of my master’s degree. If I told you most of the paper was written in those two weeks (Sorry Dr. P!), would you believe me?

The second week of December, Brian FINALLY asked me to marry him, and much to his detriment, I said yes. And now he’s stuck with me forever. The proposal itself was magical and ridiculous and amazing, and I’m in the process of writing about it to give it justice. There’s also a video or two coming. You’re welcome in advance.

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The third week of December was the week I graduated from Benedictine University with a master of arts in education. I can’t say I’ll never use it, but  I don’t plan to be a teacher or anything…

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When your boyfriend tells you you're a tiger, you become a tiger.

I’ll tell you what, though. No one has as much fun in her cap and gown as me. As Brian would tell you, he felt tricked into attending mass, because my Catholic university invited a nun to speak as the keynote. Mom loved it. Well, what she could here from the back on the auditorium, anyways.

I was told I couldn’t write anything on my cap, which was unfortunate,  because when I graduated from undergrad, I had “need a job” taped to my cap for all to see. It was brilliant,  and it jinxed me for several months cough a year cough. Whatever. Back in 2005, I also had a twinkie and my cell phone tucked safely into my bra. This year, I thought ahead and wore a dress with pockets so I could fill them with entertainment.

I, of course, brought reinforcements. I had a bottle of Chila Orchata and a wheel of Mini Babybel to provide sustenance before I got day drunk with my family at the wine bar.

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I actually ended up hiding these refreshments in the goofy tubing attached to the sleeves of my gown because it was tricky to access pockets under the gown. These sleeve tubes also proved useful for keeping my hands warm while crossing campus in the bitter cold for free cookies and lemonade.

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I checked in with you guys on Facebook and kept myself amused until the one other MA.E. and I were guided to the stage. They never announced our degree, so as far as the audience was concerned, we were just two rando names in the long pause between the undergrads and MBA degree candidates. 

I neither tripped nor fell, but I did walk the wrong way, even when the guidey person was like, “that way…no, that way…no, THAT way.” Alas, I channeled my inner Fleetwood Mac and I went my own way. But I didn’t want to walk in front of the photographer who was already taking awful pictures of me. And so I shimmied around him awkwardly while one of the professors yelled at me.  No big deal.

But now, I am a Master of the Universe, and after getting champagne drunk for the 27th time this month, the celebration was over. Except that I wanted to tell you about my exciting month, even if my degree is only slightly wasted right now, you know…not being a teacher and all…

Let’s celebrate, my friends! What exciting things happened for you this month? What about this year? Did you get a new job or married or pregnant or write a book or just survive? What are you proud of or excited about?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Completely Legitimate Reasons I Could Have Quit My Job

They took away my mirrors

My narcissism knows no bounds, and when the lobby renovation of my building was finished, there were no more mirrors for me to double check myself before heading up to my office. There used to be a wall of mirrors and gold mirrored elevator doors in which I could double check my hair, look for wardrobe malfunctions, and just get a good glance at myself as I walked down the long hallway.
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Once they began construction, I knew nothing was ever going to be the same.

I had no idea what I was doing

I wasn’t a writer anymore, but I was still writing a little social media content. I was also negotiating big fat contracts and talking to potential partners. lt was strange and scary, but let’s be honest here…I was talking to people every day, shmoozing, and learning…I kinda liked it. And it turns out, I’m pretty good at it.

They wanted me to work in the office on Black Friday

Not at MY office, mind you, but the corporate office, which was about an hour drive. I was told to bring crossword puzzles because it was known that there was nothing my team could do to help the madness. Let me clarify that I was planning on working Black Friday. From home. I could care less about shopping these days, but driving up to the main office at 4 am to do crossword puzzles? Sounds like a waste of my time. If I had to work on Black Friday, and could be of any use to my peers (other than running coffee, which was also a recommended option for things to do), sure no problem. But that wasn’t the case. The office would have been a lonely skeleton in which I felt trapped by corporate entities that just wanted to look good in front of their superiors. That don’t impress me much.
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My friends were leaving

At one point, I had oodles of friends at my old company. But they were all moving on to bigger and better things. New fancy companies with matching hoodies and name recognition that would make anyone swoon. I’ll admit I was jealous. That green-eyed monster can be a beast.

Something magical happened

Sure, those were all perfectly acceptable reasons to leave a perfectly acceptable job. But I’m not really that kind of girl. After a few less than savory experiences in the world of employment, I knew it was important to be picky as fuck when I did finally jump ship and the only reason I would ever leave would be if I found something amazing to take its place. And somehow, I happened across a magical unicorn of job listings at a company I really wanted to work for doing something I wanted to do…and the rest, as they say, is history.

I feel like I’m home.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

What Can You Do With an English Degree?

Whilst shopping at Carson Pirie Scott, I observed (eavesdropped) a couple of ladies who had run into each other randomly. I listened as they played catch up and maintained a somewhat blah degree of small talk. I drew a little bit closer as they began discussing one of their children who, to her mother’s dismay, was getting a degree in English.

Her friend/acquaintance asked, “Well, is she going to teach?”

The mother of this English major expressed her disappointment and incredulity that her daughter was, in fact, not going to be a teacher and what in the world could she do with such an inferior degree.

If you major in English, there are a LOT of career paths you can take. These are just a few ideas.

It was, at this point, the time I felt it necessary to interject. Yes, I did jump from being a fly on a wall to joining their conversation. Because OMG people need to understand the relevance and brilliance of English majors everywhere.

I marched right up to those women and interrupted the fuck out of their conversation. “There’s actually a lot you can do with an English major.”

They looked at me only a little funny, because in the Chicagoland area, and probably by extension the Midwest, it is entirely normal for people to just jump into your conversations. We’re a pretty friendly people. Even if we do eavesdrop and take joy in overhearing people quitting their jobs out of the blue.

“I have a Bachelor of Arts in English.”

“Do you teach?”

“No, actually I don’t. I’m certified to teach English, but I have no desire to do so. On the contrary, there are many things that a degree in English can prepare college grads for that other degrees don’t.”

“Really?”

Well, duh, lady.

“I’ve actually had a couple of thriving careers with my English degree, and the beauty is that I’m not tied down to just one. I was a catering manager for a couple of years, and now I’m a senior copywriter for a Fortune 100 company.” (And now I’m an editor. Maybe one day I’ll own a restaurant or something. It’s the circle of life, bitches).

The ladies were impressed and maybe a little less judgeysaurus rexy about the whole English major thing. As I walked away, I was transported back to my senior year of college in which one of my favorite professors, Dr. Prescott, led our senior project class. The project? Write a research thesis discussing one career path you  can take with your English major.

Of course, not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, as I had JUST dropped my education minor (to teach English) the previous semester, I looked to what I knew. Dad was in wine sales for years before he took on ownership of the bar. Liquor sales seemed like a brilliant idea. Plus I could source dad and some of his cronies for my first-person sources. It was ingenious. I got an  A.

English majors, and really anyone with a degree in the liberal arts, often get a bad rap for being lazy and stupid (LAS – Liberal Arts and Sciences). None of which is actually true. Lazy? Fuck no. We’re intuitive. We’re clever. We believe in working smarter not harder. If we can write a paper in 3 hours when we’re given 3 weeks, why in the world would we waste time writing it early? If we work better at 2 am than at noon, we’re going to write the shit out of a final paper in the middle of the night. Because we can. We understand our strengths and weaknesses. We know where and how to thrive.

-Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships,It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick.-

As an English major, I learned more life skills than most of my friends in other more direct degree programs. Sure, a business major is going to learn how to land a deal or make a sale, but I learned how to talk to and more importantly, write to people. To engage my audience in a way that makes a sale feel natural and authentic. I learned how to negotiate a big fancy contract without ever discussing contract negotiations in a class, because I know people. I know words. I know the intrinsic value of human interaction in every aspect of business. Someone who went straight from their B.S. to an MBA program without working a day in their life doesn’t necessarily have that luxury (this also doesn’t mean that that don’t).

So what can you do with an English major?

Whatever the fuck you want.

Did you go to college? What did you major in? Did your major lead you down an expected career path? 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Who Needs Big Brother When I’m Listening to Your Conversations?

I realize that I’m a total creeper. To be fair, you guys asked for more of these…so if you’re weirded out, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Except for the graphic. That was all me.

I'm always listening to conversations, and when I hear or see something noteworthy? I write it down.

My old company had a big ole corporate office that I almost never visited. I worked at a satellite office full of hipsters and people who didn’t seem to mind that I wore rainbow yoga pants to work. It was a comfortable place to be. In my last couple of months at the company, I was required to make my way to corporate on a weekly cadence. My teammates and I called it Mordor because a dark cloud seemed to loom over the long drive to the office.

One of the neat things about Mordor err…corporate was the miniature city within an office. When I realized I needed to buy tampons, I could just head to the convenience store inside the building. Which is exactly what I did on my last Mordor err…corporate day.

I walked into the shop, where a woman was sitting behind a register on the left side of the counter and a young man was standing behind the register on the right side. Another employee was walking back and forth through the store, and I made my way to the pharmacy aisle.

I grabbed a box of tampons, walked down the snack aisle, stared longingly at the box of Oreos that I opted not to purchase, and made my way to the cashier, a young gentleman in his late teens/early twenties. I thought to myself how far I’d come since my embarrassing first period, and how I didn’t give two shits that some dude had to pick up a box of tampons, look me in the eye, and ask if I needed anything else. If he did ask, I considered telling him to hold on a second, I needed some Midol – just for funsies, but he never gave me the chance. He scanned my tampons, and as I was punching in my phone number to the system, some other guy (my assumption is that he was the manager or supervisor) walked behind him.

This was the exchange that played out.

Cashier: K, I am not in the mood. I’m sick and don’t feel well.

Wait, what the fuck is going on? Where did that even come from? That guy never said anything.

Supervisor: I don’t give a shit.

Woah. Hostile much? Wait, these people are AT WORK. This is how they’re speaking to each other in front of customers. This is SO fucked up.

Cashier: Fuck this place.

Well, this is an interesting turn of events…I wonder if he’s going to…

The cashier reaches behind his neck, pulls off the lanyard he’s wearing, and drops his badge on the counter before I’ve had the chance to swipe my credit card.

Cashier: I quit. I’m done dealing with this bullshit. Have fun making deliveries today.

Did that seriously just happen?

Yep. Yes, it did. That guy just quit. While ringing up my tampons.

Me: Ummm…can someone complete my transaction?

The girl sitting down stood and moved toward the register I was at, and the previous cashier turned from the door before he left.

Cashier: A, I’m really sorry. I’m sick of this shit. I have to go.

That was fucking ridiculous.

The girl completed my transaction, and I went on my merry way. Furiously typing up the exchange in my “other people’s conversations” files, anxious to tell you about this insanely ridiculous story.

It seemed fitting that this happened on my last day at the central office, as I only had a few days left. I was glad I didn’t quit in anger like that guy, but it definitely added to the weirdness I felt about leaving.

Have you ever witnessed someone leave their job or have you quit in a rage? What is the craziest way in which you’ve left a job?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Unemployment is a lot like Being Single

Several years ago, I spent about six months unemployed. Collecting unemployment from the state of Illinois is something of a joke, in my opinion. I know a lot of people who collect and don’t do a damn thing to find a job. I even had a recruiter ask me if I was collecting, and if I would still be interested in part time or freelance work if it would mess up the unemployment check. Really? I thought that the point was to REEMPLOY yourself!

Of course, as someone who spent many hours a day, five days a week, for six months searching, I’m a little jaded. I had to go to a state mandated “re-employment” workshop, something that people who had been collecting UI for years had never been to…and still, no full-time employment for Chrissy.

I’ve also had my fair share of singleton experiences. I spent the better portion of my adult life single and made the rounds of dating–online and otherwise.

So having spent a lot of time job hunting, and a lot of time dating…I realized that job hunting is a lot like dating. More specifically, job hunting is a lot like online dating.

Online dating and job hunting

How to find a job…or how to find a date

Step one
Build your online profile. You need to make yourself marketable to your target audience. Whether it’s a future boss or a future boyfriend, you need to know what they want and give yourself the appearance that you have it. The more you write, the more interesting (or boring) you become. You’ve got to have a perfectly written cover letter or dating profile that stands out in a crowd of other single or unemployed persons. Not only that, it has to stand out to the particular type of person or company that you’re trying to snag.

Step two
Search. Search for the forever employer. Search for the forever boyfriend or girlfriend. Search for a right-now date or the right-now job. You’ve got your information posted for them to find you; now, you have to try to find them. With a plethora of websites and apps available for you to find your perfect match, you can spend hours filling out forms with all of your information, writing about yourself, and so much more. This step is where desperation can often come into play. Whether you’re sending out 500 job applications on CareerBuilder, or sending messages to 500 different people on Match.com, you’ve got to make sure to limit the sound of despondency in your tone. Keep it confident. Simple.

Step three
Make contact. Once you’ve found a potential match, you’ve got to get in touch with them in the hopes that they will respond to your inquiry. If they’ve found you first, you need to take it from virtual communication to real communication. Email, phone, and then in-person communication. It’s a process

Step four
The first date or the interview. From the pre-meeting anxiety to the sigh of relief upon its completion, these two are incredibly similar. You make yourself look your absolute best–a best that you almost never look in real life. A brand new outfit, coiffed tresses, flawless make-up, and whatever else you can think of. You’re showcasing a part of yourself that almost never makes it out into the real world. Because ain’t nobody got time for that every day.

Step five
Wait. Hope they call. Whether it’s the second interview or the second date, you can only wait for them to make the decision that they’ll call. Of course, you can be proactive and make the first move, but even then, it’s always a waiting game. Are they going to answer? Are they going to turn down your request for a second date or meeting?

Basically, you’re trying to fit personalities into a functional relationship that will become mutually beneficial. Dating or job-hunting–the questions are all the same. Are you personable? Are you a hard-worker? Are you intelligent? Can you keep up? Do you mesh well together?

Eventually, you’ll find the right one at the right time, and things, hopefully, work out well.

Have you ever been unemployed? What comparisons would you make about dating and job hunting?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Please. Don’t Walk and Smoke at the Same Time

I grew up in the house of smoke. The fact that I came out of it without smoking is actually kind of bizarre. When I lived at home, I didn’t even realize how everything I owned smelled like smoke. It wasn’t until I went to college that I ever understood the stale smell of lingering cigarette smoke. My mom figured it out eventually too, and started making all the smokers smoke outside. Which totally makes sense.

I don’t have a vendetta against smokers. I was against the smoking ban in bars. I smoked my fair share of angry, drunk cigarettes after that ban was implemented (it’s hard when all your friends go out to smoke and you’re stuck inside watching purses. Fuck that). My best friend Lily loves to tell my chain-smoking story of that one time I had a lit cigarette in each hand and two unlit cigarettes behind my ears. To be fair, I was drunk, pissed, and Bill Clintoning that shit (I didn’t like the burning from inhaling).

Now, I walk almost a mile to and from work each day. I pass by more than 642 people every day (I tried to count once, but lost track after a couple blocks and several hundred people).
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Every east-west street near the train stations in The Loop looks like this during rush hour. A sea of people – hundreds people – just racing to their offices. Of those hundred of people, there are usually a few unobservant smokers blowing smoke backwards, not even considering what jerky behavior they’re exhibiting.
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Listen. I get it. You want your smoky treat before work. After work. At lunch. When you’re a tourist on vacation. I don’t blame you. As a general rule, work sucks and vacation can be stressful. But when you walk and smoke at the same time in that giant crowd of people…you’re blowing smoke in the faces of every person in a ten-foot ring behind you. I know you don’t want to be a jerk…and I’ve got some pointers to offer you so that you aren’t being a complete douchebag.
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  • Pull over. Step to the side of the sidewalk and enjoy your cigarette. Preferably on the street side of the sidewalk so you’re not blowing smoke in everyone’s faces. You may miss the earlier train, but you won’t be considered an asshole by everyone who catches your smoke in their lungs. And honestly, won’t you enjoy your cigarette just a little more without rushing from point A to point B? Help me help you.
  • When someone LITERALLY runs in front of you, don’t continually try to pass her so your smoke keeps blowing in her face. She ran to get away from you.

(Yeah, I do this. And it happened. Also, the third time the guy sped up to pass me, I looked at him and yelled, “DUDE. SERIOUSLY.” This was me exhibiting douchebag behavior. That guy didn’t know what he was doing to piss me off. I felt a little bad. And he probably thought I was crazy. But seriously don’t smoke and walk.)

That’s it. Two simple steps to making the world a better place. Your efforts are appreciated.

What pet peeves do you have on your daily commute? What are your thoughts on walking smokers?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Activities That Don’t Involve Booze That Make Valentine’s Day at Work Fun

Cheese tasting lessons (obviously my contribution to the team)

Cheese Tasting

I explained the art of letting cheese sit to room temperature before consumption to enhance the flavor profile. Basically, I made them eat cheese twice. Once, when it was cold, and again when it had warmed to room temp. Because I’m fucking awesome.

Candy necklace eating contest (also my contribution to the team)

Candy necklaces

Chocolate Roulette (also me)

It only took me three pieces of chocolate to find the coconut truffle!

It only took me three pieces of chocolate to find the coconut truffle!

It only took me three pieces of chocolate to find the coconut truffle!

Star Wars light saber battles thanks to glowy light sabers in our valentines!

Star Wars Valentines

Who can make their boyfriends feel the worst after receiving floral love from the office Cassonova?

Flowers from co-workers

Guess who keeps leaving the secret Valentine messages?

Secret Valentine

How to divide 8 chocolate covered strawberries by 10 people

Chocolate covered strawberries

One co-worker brought in delicious chocolate covered strawberries to share…but some of us wanted to eat more than others! Om nom nom.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Blog Friends.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night! Also, the Best Secret Santa Stuff on the Planet.

Merry Christmas Blog Friends!

I hope that Santa brought you everything you hoped for this year. Santa (AKA me) wrapped up extra just in case presents for me (AKA myself) because they were awesome and inexpensive…and I unwrapped those this morning along with delightful gifts from my wonderful boyfriend. </shmoop>

Brian totally laughed at my heartfelt and humorous attempt at pinning our relationship down with lots of cheese in a personalized book. 

But really, home life Santas and Christmas joy aside, I’m here to tell you about my office Secret Santa project and all the amusement that came from it. In pictures, since it’s a holiday and you’ve got Christmas to enjoy.

My boss’ Secret Santa brought him a Santa PJ Suit, stuffed it with newspaper and set it at his desk. He took it really well.

My Secret Santa was AWESOME. Booze. Chocolate and…a special surprise!

2013-12-20 09.55.23We did a 2-3 present Secret Santa game all week, where surprises randomly showed up when you least expected it. The reveal was to happen at our CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer–that’s me) pot luck team holiday lunch.

Everyone kept telling me who they had and I STILL couldn’t figure out my Secret Santa. And my person couldn’t figure me out at all, even though a few other people thought I was their Santa. But I was stealthy. I had the front desk girl e-mail my recipient each day I had a present for her!

I’m really lucky to have such fun co-workers. And I certainly had a pretty great Secret Santa. And so did my boss. Ho Ho Ho!

What was your favorite part of the holiday season this year?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Importance of Learning to Say “No”

I have always been a “yes” girl.

I feel guilty saying, “no.”

I feel guilty saying, “no,” so I say, “yes.” And then I find myself overbooked, overwhelmed and over-anxious. I work a full time job. I work more than 40 hours a week. I commute 10 hours a week. Which means that I’m gone for almost 12 hours a day. 5 days a week.

And then I come home. And I blog. Because I love you guys. I love the community that we’ve built. I love sending you thoughtful messages and chatting with you. I love reading other blogs, and participating in other communities.

But it can get overwhelming.

All of it.

Two weeks ago, I was offered a semi-promotion. One that wouldn’t change my title or my pay just yet, but the opportunity to move up to an official manager would quickly be in my sights. I would have direct reports. I would be responsible for the work of two other very talented people.

And I said, “no.”

I said this, not because I wasn’t ready for the position, but because I wasn’t ready for the additional demands on my personal life. I believe in a solid work-life balance, and I’m still working out the kinks in this one. I don’t want to live to work. I work to live.

Of course, I also feel that I have a lot more professional development to work on as a senior copywriter. I want to remain a mentor to newer team members, but I don’t want to be a manager. I want to be a peer. I want to learn from my peers. I want to build on my knowledge as a writer, and not a manager.

So, I said, “no.”

And it wasn’t the last time I said, “no” in the last few weeks. I also said no to social engagements, when I needed a break. It’s hard to stay home when people want you to join them for fun and laughter, but sometimes you just need to stay in and read an entire trilogy of books. And rearrange your cabinets. And give away all of your storage containers to make room for the ridiculous amount of Pyrex and Pfaltzgraff that you bought on Black Friday. Because that’s just what you do when you need a break.

You find joy and laughter in the things that help you relax. For me, it’s reading and rearranging. What helps you relax? Do you have problems saying, “no” too? Tell me about it, Blog Friends.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

It’s Friday, I’m in LOVE

OK, it’s everyday I’m in love…with cheese. I mean Brian. I mean…both.

Details aside. It’s FRIDAY. FINALLY.

Why am I more excited that it’s Friday today instead of other Fridays?

My BOSS has been galavanting in Europe for almost 2 weeks. As the girl who was recently promoted to “second in command” guess who had to pretend to be him for almost 2 weeks?

Yeah. That. So I’ve been busy freaking out all over the place. Because he does a lot of things that I didn’t really realize he did. And now I see why he mutters curse words under his breath a lot.

BUT today…TODAY…TODAY! is the last day before his return. I’ll be celebrating by bringing in cheese for my co-workers. Because that’s what I do.

So I’m off to cut the cheese (stop that. Stop thinking that right now. Okay, go ahead and laugh.)

Sloth FridaySaw that…and then I needed to post a sloth for you.

sloth and flowers

Have a GREAT Friday!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!